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Report: Optus network ‘not fit for nbn’

The Optus cable TV and broadband network acquired by Australia’s national broadband network (nbn) for A$800 million (€545m) is in such poor condition the nbn is considering replacing it entirely, according to a leaked document, which suggests that building over the Optus HFC network with Telstra HFC or a mix of other technologies would deliver better results than upgrading the current network, with a funding increase of between A$150 million and A$375 million.

The document, a briefing presentation, was described by an nbn spokesperson as part of an ongoing approach of risk mitigation. “In order to manage risk nbn regularly prepares for multiple scenarios in the network deployment – the document concerned is part of that,” he explained.

The presentation posits moving to a ‘Plan B’ for the HFC network, rather than upgrading the Optus network as originally intended, whereas the ‘Plan A’ HFC rollout would see existing Optus infrastructure used for 470,000 premises.

However, the report suggests the Optus network is “not fully fit for purpose” with some equipment is “arriving at the end of life” needing to be replaced. Other parts of the network are oversubscribed and don’t have sufficient capacity to support NBN services. Accordingly, overbuilding the Optus HFC network with Telstra HFC or a mix of other technologies would deliver better results than upgrading the current network.

nbn is currently conducting an HFC Pilot on the Optus HFC network in Redcliffe, Queensland, built out to 4,500 premises. “We have activated end-users from several of our RSPs. End-users have been receiving speeds of up to 100Mbps/40Mbps. nbn has not found any unexpected technical issues with the Optus network in the Redcliffe area,” said an nbn spokesperson.

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